Creating new folk opera forms of applied theatre for HIV and AIDS education in Papua New Guinea

Awi, Jane Pumai (2014) Creating new folk opera forms of applied theatre for HIV and AIDS education in Papua New Guinea. PhD by Creative Works, Queensland University of Technology.


This research investigated the potential of folk opera as a tool for HIV and AIDS education in Papua New Guinea. It began with an investigation on the indigenous performativities and theatricalities of Papua New Guineans, conducting an audit of eight selected performance traditions in Papua New Guinea. These traditions were analysed, and five cultural forms and twenty performance elements were drawn out for further exploration. These elements were fused and combined with theatre techniques from western theatre traditions, through a script development process involving Australians, Papua New Guineans and international collaborators. The resulting folk opera, entitled Kumul, demonstrates what Murphy (2010) has termed story force, picture force, and feeling force, in the service of a story designed to educate Papua New Guinean audiences about HIV and the need to adopt safer sexual practices. Kumul is the story of a young man faced with decisions on whether or not to engage in risky sexual behaviours. Kumul's narrative is carefully framed within selected Papua New Guinean beliefs drawn from the audit to deliver HIV and AIDS messages using symbolic and metaphoric communication techniques without offending people. The folk opera Kumul was trialled in two communities in Papua New Guinea: a village community and an urban settlement area. Kumul is recognisable to Papua New Guinean audiences because it reflects their lifestyle and a worldview, which connects them to their beliefs and spirituality, and the larger cosmological order. Feedback from audience members indicated that the performance facilitated HIV and AIDS communication, increased people's awareness of HIV and AIDS, and encouraged behaviour change. Tellingly, in one performance venue, forty people queued for Voluntary Testing and Counseling immediately after the performance. Twenty of these people were tested on that night and the other twenty were tested the following day. Many of the volunteers were young men – a demographic historically difficult to engage in HIV testing. This encouraging result indicates that the Kumul folk opera form of applied theatre could be useful for facilitating communication and education regarding sexual health and safer sexual behaviours in Papua New Guinea. Feedback from participants, audience members and other research stakeholders suggests that the form might also be adapted to address other social and development issues, particularly in the areas of health and social justice.

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ID Code: 81643
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Creative Works)
Supervisor: Haseman, Brad, Baldwin, Andrea, & Murphy, Greg
Additional Information:
Keywords: communication, awareness, HIV and AIDS, voluntary, testing and counselling, folk opera, applied theatre, theatre for development, drama, script, performance, performativity, theatre, theatricality, intercultural theatre, intra-cultural, Indigenous knowledge, cultural performances, metaphor, signs, symbols, Papua New Guinean worldview, Melanesian way, Papua New Guinea and Kumul
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 05 Feb 2015 07:42
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 06:35

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